The Platinum Rule is an expansion of the Golden Rule that most people are familiar with. The Golden Rule states that we should treat others the way we would want to be treated. The Platinum Rule takes this a step further and says we should treat others the way they would want to be treated. This requires empathy, perspective-taking, and understanding of others’ preferences that goes beyond the Golden Rule.
The concept of the Platinum Rule originated in Dr. Tony Alessandra’s book The Platinum Rule: Discover the Four Basic Business Personalities and How They Can Lead You to Success. In his research on relationships and leadership, Alessandra found that the Golden Rule was not always effective because people’s preferences are diverse. What we might prefer is not necessarily what someone else would prefer. For relationships and interactions to be most successful, we need to set aside our own preferences and consider the other person.
The Bible does not explicitly mention the Platinum Rule, since the concept was identified in modern times. However, the Bible contains teachings that align very closely with the ethic behind the Platinum Rule. As the Platinum Rule requires understanding and considering others, Scripture calls us to be attentive to others’ needs and not just our own. The Bible stresses loving others, treating them as more significant than ourselves, and looking out for their interests. This biblical ethic very much reflects the heart behind the Platinum Rule.
Key Principles Behind the Platinum Rule
There are several key principles behind the Platinum Rule that help explain this concept further:
- Seeking understanding – To treat others as they would want, we need to understand them and their preferences. This requires listening to others’ perspectives with empathy.
- Prioritizing others – The Platinum Rule calls us to focus on others more than ourselves, considering their desires rather than just our own.
- Serving others’ needs – With understanding of others’ preferences, we can better tailor our treatment of them to serve their needs rather than just do what is most comfortable for us.
- Relationships over rules – While the Golden Rule provides a rule of thumb for behavior, the Platinum Rule emphasizes adapting to each relationship and situation.
- Acceptance over judgment – The Platinum Rule requires accepting and working with others’ preferences rather than judging them if different from our own.
The Platinum Rule Embodies Biblical Principles
When we look at the Bible’s teachings on how we should treat one another, we find many passages that speak to the ideals behind the Platinum Rule even if they do not use this exact phrasing. Core biblical principles reflected in the Platinum Rule include:
- Love – Loving others well involves seeking to understand them and meet their needs (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
- Humility – We are called to humbly consider others as more important than ourselves (Philippians 2:3-4).
- Generosity – Looking out for others’ interests reflects the generosity Scripture commands (2 Corinthians 8:24).
- Servant-heartedness – The Bible calls us to serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13).
- Going the extra mile – Jesus tells us to go beyond expectations in serving and caring for others (Matthew 5:41).
- Golden Rule – While limited, the Golden Rule does advise considering how we want to be treated (Luke 6:31).
Living by the Platinum Rule lines up closely with the Bible’s instructions about treating others with love and care. Scripture repeatedly advises looking out for others above ourselves, reflecting the ethic of the Platinum Rule.
Bible Stories Demonstrating the Platinum Rule
There are many stories in the Bible that demonstrate something very similar to the Platinum Rule, even if they do not call it by that name. They show people setting aside their own preferences or benefit to serve someone else based on understanding of their needs. Some examples include:
- Jesus washing the disciples’ feet – Jesus humbled himself to meet their need and desire for cleansing (John 13:1-17).
- Ruth and Naomi – Ruth prioritized caring for Naomi rather than taking an easier path (Ruth 1:16-18).
- Good Samaritan – The Samaritan served the needs of a Jewish man, considered an enemy (Luke 10:25-37).
- Jesus with the woman at the well – Jesus asked for water even though it broke cultural norms (John 4:7-9).
- Abigail and David – Abigail met David’s need for provision in the wilderness (1 Samuel 25:18-31).
- The early church – Christians were commanded to serve each other according to their needs (Acts 2:44-45).
Each of these stories shows a person surrendering their own preferences or benefit at that moment in order to serve someone else. They sought to understand the other’s situation and needs in order to adapt and treat them accordingly. This reflects the Platinum Rule’s ethic applied through biblical examples.
Applying the Platinum Rule to Relationships
The Platinum Rule is most applicable in our relationships with others, guiding how we treat people based on their unique preferences and needs. Some ways we can apply it include:
- Listening more than talking – Seek first to understand others’ perspectives.
- Asking good questions – Inquire about others’ preferences rather than assume.
- Adapting your behavior – Accommodate others’ likes and dislikes.
- Anticipating needs – Think ahead about how to make someone comfortable.
- Following their lead – Let others determine the direction they want a relationship to go.
- Being patient – Recognize that we are all at different places.
Practicing these habits can help us treat others with the understanding and accommodation encouraged by the Platinum Rule. It leads to healthier relationships when we prefer others more than demanding our own way.
When the Platinum Rule Is Difficult
While the Platinum Rule is a noble principle, it can also be very difficult at times. It essentially requires us to deny ourselves and our preferences in order to accommodate others. This can be challenging when:
- Our preferences are strongly ingrained.
- We think our way is the best way.
- Others’ preferences seem unreasonable, offensive, or unethical.
- Serving others’ preferences requires great effort or sacrifice.
- We think others should conform to our preferences.
In these difficult situations, we need to draw on God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to follow biblical principles that reflect the Platinum Rule. We can pray for humility, patience, and the willingness to defer our interests to others’ when needed.
Caveats and Cautions with the Platinum Rule
While the Platinum Rule represents an advance beyond the Golden Rule, it is not without its limitations. There are some caveats to keep in mind:
- True understanding of others is often difficult
- Some preferences should not be ethically accommodated
- Preferences can be fluid rather than fixed
- Flexibility in adapting to others’ preferences takes wisdom
- We cannot meet every preference someone expresses
- Our own needs and convictions still matter
The Platinum Rule provides helpful guidance for treating others with sensitivity and care for their needs. But we have to balance it with other factors, including morality, wisdom, and stewardship of our own lives. Absolute adherence to it in every situation is likely unwise and at times impossible.
The Platinum Rule encourages us to treat others according to their preferences rather than our own. This reflects biblical principles of love, humility, generosity, and service. Stories of Jesus and others in the Bible demonstrate a willingness to set aside personal interests to accommodate the needs or desires of someone else. Practicing the Platinum Rule strengthens our relationships when we prioritize understanding and serving others. However, we need wisdom in application, recognizing the Platinum Rule’s limitations and caveats in a fallen world. If applied appropriately, it can guide us to interact with people in a Christlike way that follows the spirit of biblical teaching.